Friday, August 21, 2020

The role of ICT in healthcare
We live in the 21st century, also known as the Information Age in modern history. There is a digital revolution taking place throughout the world where technology is replacing a number of industrial machinery and human resources. Everyday new innovations are coming up and this advancement of technology is aimed at making our lives easier. To provide a faster, more convenient, better quality service at a lower cost to individuals, man has started digitalizing his services. Banking, education, travel, security, communication are some of those fields.

Information and communications technologies (ICTs) can play a critical role in improving health care for individuals and communities addressing the above. The emerging role of ICT has created a huge impact on Healthcare. It mainly enhances the quality of Healthcare as well as the overall efficiency. ICT can be useful in Healthcare by increasing accessibility, improving communication, storing information methodologically and also by preventing medical errors. It has an impact on health education & medical research too.

Telemedicine is one of the results of ICT developments in Healthcare. Telemedicine gives the benefit of accessing medical care to patients in remote locations quickly and more conveniently. It varies from sending an email to a real time video consultation. Teleradiology which is transferring medical images to a distance & Teleophthalmology which is transferring retinal images for specialized opinion are new branches of Telemedicine. With the advancement of ICT placement of Medical kiosk in public places may further increase the accessibility to Healthcare.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) based chat bots, robots are used presently for medical assistance and even for critical illness diagnosis. AI bases predictors will surely assist the doctors to make their diagnosis more accurate and at a less time.   Virtual & augmented reality (VR/AR) is playing an increasingly larger role in health care where it assists in medical education, rehabilitation and even in treating psychological disorders. Wearables/ iOT devices plays a prominent role in today’s healthcare transformation. It brings Healthcare closer to patient or the consumers. These may guide individuals to a Healthy lifestyle proactively as well as monitor patients remotely.

Though the technical advancement in ICT creates a new era in Healthcare, there are certain challenges that the stakeholders face. Especially low IT literacy, poor ICT infrastructure, lack of communication skills are some of them. Low acceptance of the public as well as attitude of not willing to change is even common among some of the Healthcare providers.

With the digital transformation taking place during the next decade, really of a Virtual Hospital in a smart city is not too far. 

Dr. Harsha Jayakody is a medical doctor and a healthcare entrepreneur, who has a special interest in artificial intelligence. Click here to read more about him.


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